December 1, 2014 Bible Study — Do Not Love This World

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:25-26

    Greed leads one into conflict with others over money, but trusting and obeying the Lord leads to having all that one needs to get by and more.


Psalm 120:1-7

    Take your troubles to the Lord. When times are hard and troubles are all around, cry out to the Lord and He will answer your prayer. I can sympathize with the psalmist’s complaint about living among those who do not live peaceful and godly lives. His answer is the only one there is, call out to God for rescue. God will answer and give us peace.


1 John 2:1-17

    The author tells us that he wrote this letter so that we will not sin. However, if we do sin, he tells us that we have an advocate before God. If we are truly remorseful for our failures and strive to not sin again, Jesus will plead our case before the Father and the Father will have mercy on us.
    If we truly know God we will obey His commands. All of God’s commands are expansions on the command to love one another. If we are living in the light of God’s goodness it is not possible to hate another person. Therefore, if we hate another person we are in darkness. The writer goes beyond that, he tells us that if we are living in the light we will love our fellow believers. It is not enough not to hate anyone. We must also love our fellow believers.
    The writer than seems to change focus by warning us against loving this world and the things of this world. This is not entirely a change of focus because it is love of this world and the things of this world that interferes with our love of one another. If we love this world we will be more concerned with obtaining physical pleasures, material goods, and our own success than in the well-being of the family of God (when we are called to care for the family of God, we are called to care for the individual members of the family of God).


Daniel 8:1-27

    Many people believe that the vision in today’s passage could only have been written by someone who actually lived in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes because it does such a good job of describing his rise to power. For me this is the least convincing of the arguments for the book of Daniel being written relatively late. I am unconvinced by such arguments because I believe that the Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of giving someone a vision of what the future holds. There are other arguments for the book of Daniel being composed in 164 B.C. which carry more weight for me. The fact that the book is composed of portions written in Aramaic and portions written in Hebrew suggest that it is a compilation of stories which had been passed down for several generations.

November 30, 2014 Bible Study — Those Who Claim to Be Without Sin Are Deceiving Themselves

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:23-24

    In the long run people appreciate those who honestly tell them what they are doing wrong more than those who tell them how wonderful they are. As time goes by, people realize that it is the people who tell them how to make themselves better who really care about them. Those who are always flattering us don’t really care about us, they are merely trying to get something from us.


Psalm 119:153-176

    People will harass and persecute us for following God’s instructions. Nevertheless, God will rescue us from such torment. If we follow God’s instructions and commands we will not fear the actions of mere men. God’s regulations will stand forever. They do not change. If we obey God’s commands he will rescue us. Yet, that is not the reason I obey His instruction. I obey God’s instructions because I love them. I have learned that doing as God directs gives me great happiness and leads to fulfillment in my life.


1 John 1:1-10

    The writer starts out by stating that he witnessed Jesus’ life and teaching, that he touched Jesus with his own hands. He goes on to tell us that he is writing so that we can share the joy he gains from fellowship with God and Jesus Christ. God is light. There is no possibility of darkness in Him. This passage reminds me of a fact that was pointed out to me some time back: darkness is not a thing. Darkness is the absence of a thing. Darkness is the absence of light. In the same way, evil is not a thing. It is the absence of a thing. Evil is the absence of good. The writer here is telling us that in the same which the sun is the source of light on the earth, God is the source of goodness. It is only by living in the light, the goodness, that comes from God that we can have fellowship with each other and with God. If we live a life where we are hiding parts of ourselves from God (and thus living in spiritual darkness), we cannot have fellowship with God (or with each other).
    To make sure we get the point he is making the author than modifies his metaphor slightly. If we deny that we sin we are lying. If we believe it when we do so, we are lying to ourselves. More than that, we are calling God a liar. On the other hand, if we confess our sins to God, acknowledging that they are sins (and by calling them sins we are acknowledging that they are things which do not truly bring us happiness), He will forgive them and cleanse us of them (and other wickedness we had not yet realized was in us). I think that parenthetical bit is part of why we are often reluctant to confess our sins. We do not want to learn what other wickedness is in our hearts.


Daniel 7:1-28

    Over the years I have had many different thoughts about what this passage means. There is definitely a parallel between it and the first dream which Daniel interpreted for Nebuchadnezzar. This vision also represents four kingdoms which will rise on the earth. However, it does not seem to be the same four kingdoms (although that may be a result of not understanding it, or the previous account, properly). I have come to realize that understanding the precise meaning of this vision is not necessary to see God’s message for us.
    The vision describes how worldly powers arise and have dominance for a time, but in the end God will give the earth and all that is in it to His people. In particular, some governments arise which will defy God and attempt to usurp His place. However, God will sit in judgement against them and bring them down in submission to His will. The fourth beast may refer to a particular empire in world history. In many ways it appears to be the Seleucid Empire, one of whose rulers defiled the Temple in Jerusalem. It can also be interpreted as the Roman Empire, which ruled when Christ was born. Or, it can be interpreted as some empire not yet identified which will fall when Christ returns. I have seen and heard all three interpretations presented.
    I believe that the important thing is to recognize when boastful rulers arise who resemble the “little horn”. These rulers will do great evil and lead many to blaspheme against God. Let us be on guard so that such people do not lead us astray.

November 29, 2014 Bible Study — Hurrying The End

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:21-22

    It is wrong to show partiality, even though there are people who will do wrong for even the most minimal of reasons. This is an interesting statement of how we should behave. Even though we know some people will do wrong for very poor reasons, we should still treat them the same as everyone else.


Psalm 119:129-152

    The psalmist continues with his praise of God’s instructions and commands. God’s laws are wonderful, those who understand them are happy to obey them. However, perhaps the most important point made by the psalmist is this

The teaching of your word gives light,
so even the simple can understand.

It does not require a genius, or great training, to understand God’s word. As we study God’s word, the combination of studying it and the Holy Spirit will provide all of the insight we need to understand what we are reading. All too many times people use their learning to find ways to claim that God did not command what His word says that He did command. We may be despised and insignificant but if we ask God, He will give us the understanding and strength to obey His law.
    Sometimes when we are under pressure and stress we are tempted to forgo studying God’s word. This is a terrible mistake, because studying God’s word is one of the best antidotes for stress.


2 Peter 3:1-18

    Peter reminds us that Jesus will return. It may seem like it has been a long time since He promised to return, but God does not view time the same way we do. From God’s point of view there is no significant difference between a day and a thousand years. The reason for the delay between the promise and the return is because God is patient. He desires that everyone repent, so is willing to give people time to do so. Nevertheless, the end will come suddenly and without warning.
    In due time, everything we can see or touch is going to be destroyed. Which means that we should live godly and holy lives. One result of living godly lives will be that we eagerly look forward to the coming end and seek to hurry it along. The question is, how do we hurry that day along? Looking at what Peter said just a few sentences earlier there are two things we can do to speed Christ’s return. The first is repent of our sins and turn to God. Hopefully, we have already done this. The second follows from the first.
    The other thing we can do to speed Christ’s return is convince others to repent of their sins and accept Christ’s salvation. Since repentance is fully volitional, that is it must be something that one does entirely by one’s own free will, this involves demonstrating to others that this is a desirable thing to do. Repentance involves regretting our actions, not just getting caught. This is why it must be entirely volitional. I can use force to regret getting caught, but I cannot use force to make you regret the action itself (except insomuch as you believe that you could not take the action without getting caught).


Daniel 6:1-28

    When his daily devotions became illegal, Daniel refused to change his habit of praying before God each day. Those officials who had written the law, and flattered the king into enacting it, knew that Daniel would remain faithful to God. That was why they proposed the law in the first place. Daniel is an example for us. Even though his enemies enacted a law to directly target his faithful service to God, he refused to change his behavior. He did not let the threatened dire consequences deter him from being faithful to God. Let us do likewise.
    There is another lesson to be learned here. When the king realized that Daniel was to be condemned as a result of the law he passed, he regretted his actions. It is important that we think through all of the consequences of our actions. The king only saw how this law would increase his stature and never thought to ask himself why these officials wanted him to enact such a law. What did they have to gain from it? We need to be careful not to make the same mistake.

November 28, 2014 Bible Study — How To Spot False Teachers

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:19-20

    Those who work hard will have enough to eat. Those who are trustworthy will be rewarded. However, those who are constantly seeking to get rich quick, especially by taking advantage of others, or who think there are ways to wealth that do not involve hard work will end up in poverty.


Psalm 119:113-128

    God has promised that He will sustain those who love and follow His decrees. Our only hope is in God’s regulations and promises. It is only by studying His instructions and following them that we will gain wisdom. Let us study the word of God because that is the source of wisdom and discernment. It is by studying God’s will that we learn to do what is right. When we do what is right we find joy.


2 Peter 2:1-22

    Just as there were false prophets in Israel in the days of Jeremiah and Isaiah there will be false teachers among the believers today. They will make up stories and false teachings in order to get money from people. These teachers, who preach a false gospel, will cause unbelievers to slander Christ’s teachings and those of His Church. The righteous will be rescued out from among them, but those who see through their lies will be few in number, as were Job, Noah and their families in their day.
    This passage gives a good starting point for recognizing false teachers. They exhibit greed and are constantly seeking money. All the time dressing in fancy clothes and driving expensive cars that those they are asking money from could not themselves afford. They are arrogant, scoffing at supernatural beings and claiming power over them that not even angels would claim. Rather than seeking greater knowledge and understanding, they scoff at and belittle those who believe things they do not understand. They brag about themselves and lure others into sins, using warped sexual desires and greed to do so. They claim that sexual “liberation” is the path to freedom, when in fact it is just a path to being enslaved by sin. If we allow our sexual desires to control us and define who we are, we are not free. Anyone who claims that indulging our sexual desires is freedom is a false teacher.


Daniel 5:1-31

    Today’s passage describes the fall of Babylon. We know from other historical sources that Babylon was already under siege by the Medes and Persians when this takes place. With their city under siege, the rich and politically connected chose to feast and drink. At a time when they should have been preparing to do whatever they could to defend their city and been rationing their food and drink in order to withstand a siege, instead they indulged in drunken debauchery. The decision to use the goblets from the Jerusalem Temple as common drinking vessels is not so much an additional affront as it is illustrative of their disregard of propriety and responsibility.
    It is from this passage that we derive the phrases, “I can see the writing on the wall” and “I can read the writing on the wall.” We use these phrases interchangeably, but in actuality they express two different thoughts. Everybody at this party could SEE the writing on the wall. They all knew instinctively that it was a frightening portent. But only Daniel could READ it. Even those who know the difference often use these two phrases in ways that do not fit the story. By the time the writing on the wall appears, it is too late to do anything but flee, and it may already be too late for that.
    When Daniel interprets the writing on the wall he tells the people present that they knew what had happened in the past. They knew how Nebuchadnezzar had been humbled because he had become too arrogant and proud. Even with the example of Nebuchadnezzar, they set themselves up as above the gods and above God. They arrogantly assumed that they were too mighty and powerful to ever suffer. Even though they knew that Nebuchadnezzar, who had been a greater and more powerful man than they could ever hope to be, had been brought low and forced to recognize a power greater than himself, they refused to do the same. Whenever anyone makes that mistake, it is only a matter of time until they are brought low. Usually that time will not be very long, just as it was not in this passage.

November 27, 2014 Bible Study — God Has Given Us Everything We Need to Live a Godly Life

For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I want to wish everyone reading this today a Happy Thanksgiving.


Proverbs 28:17-18

    Some of those who have committed murder will seek to escape their conscience in death. Those who attempt to convince them that their guilt is not great enough to deserve death are doing neither them or society any favors.
    Those who lead a blameless life will find that others will seek to protect them from harm. On the other hand, people will be hesitant to warn the wicked about a coming trap. The former is because people do not want to see such a person come to harm. The latter is because people are afraid to come to the attention of those who are wicked.


Psalm 119:97-112

    Studying God’s word and following His instructions will make one knowledgeable and wise. Thinking about how we can please God and then following through by doing so will make us wiser than any of our enemies. The reason for this is that if we have enemies, either they or we (or both) are not being faithful to God. If we meditate on God’s word we will not live our life as if we are walking in darkness. Each step of our life will be clearly marked out for us.
    I would like to add here that this year I believe I have found the theme which runs through this psalm. I would like to add that my failure to identify this theme is due to my own obtuseness (and failure to have read through this psalm with any frequency before starting this blog). The theme is the benefits, wonders, and joys of studying and following God’s instructions.


2 Peter 1:1-21

    Peter begins his second letter by telling us that God has given us everything we need to live a godly life. This does not mean that it is easy to do so. And since God has given this to us, He will give it to others. Furthermore since our ability to live a godly life is a gift from God, our doing so does not indicate that we are better than others.
    Peter does more than tell us that God has given us what we need to live a godly life. He tells us the template we need to follow in order to do so. The very first step is faith. We must then add moral excellence, or goodness, to our faith. Once we have started practicing goodness, we need to seek knowledge. As we gain knowledge we must exert self-control. Once we start to have some self-control, we must learn to patiently endure, to persevere. As we learn to persevere we must become godly, because otherwise we will become bitter. As we persevere with godliness we must learn to have mutual affection for our fellow believers. Finally, as our mutual affection for other believers matures, we are to exhibit love for everyone.
    As we develop in this way we will become ever more productive in our service to God. If we fail to develop in this manner, we are shortsighted, or perhaps even blind. There are no shortcuts to being faithful. We can not skip over goodness and knowledge to love of everyone. If we attempt to do so, we will fail to act in ways that are loving because we do not have the knowledge to do otherwise. For that matter, we cannot truly exhibit love for everyone until we have learned self-control. Yet what good is self-control if we do not know in what ways we should control ourselves? For that matter, what good does it do us to know what is right, if we do not actually act in that manner? Applying just a little bit of logic shows us that we must follow the path Peter laid out here.


Daniel 4:1-37

    Nebuchadnezzar experienced something that happens to every person who becomes powerful and believes that their power and wealth are purely a result of their own skills and effort. When someone is filled with such hubris and pride that they fail to recognize the role which God played in their rise (even if they attribute it to chance), they will experience a great fall. If they are lucky, God will give them a second chance to honour Him for their success. However, if they fail even then to acknowledge God they will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

November 26, 2014 Bible Study — Love Covers a Multitude of Sins

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:15-16

    Wicked rulers are as dangerous to the poor as a wild predator. They are unpredictable and difficult to defend against. Rulers who oppress the people lack understanding and wisdom. Those rulers who hate corruption will have long and prosperous lives.
    A government which treats its people well will be strong and last for many years. A government which treats its people as sheep to be fleeced will soon fall.


Psalm 119:81-96

    We may be worn out from waiting for God to relieve us from our misery, yet if we continue to keep His commands He will rescue us. No matter how dire our situation may appear, let us remain faithful to God for He will remain faithful to us. His regulations are as true today as when He first spoke them. Things may seem bad today, but we can rest assured that everything serves God’s plans and He will reward our faithfulness in ways we cannot imagine.


1 Peter 4:7-5:14

    Peter gives us a series of instructions that are related. However, before he does that, he reminds us that this world will be coming to an end in the near future. Therefore we should be planning for what comes after this world, by being earnest and disciplined in our prayers (there’s that emphasis on prayer again). The most important thing that we can do is show love for one another. We have each been given gifts from God, let us use them with all of our strength to serve one another. In this way we will bring glory to God.
    We should not only be prepared to face suffering, but rejoice when we do. Because when we have such experiences we become partners with Christ in His suffering. Let us just make sure that what suffering we experience is not a result of our own wrongdoing. There is no shame in suffering for following Christ, but we should not do things which will make us deserve suffering. We will find that we can continue to do what is right in the face of suffering if we put our complete trust in God.
    Peter concludes his teaching in this letter by telling the elders in the Church (in this case, I think he is referring both to those who are in official positions of authority AND those who are more mature Christians) to lead by example. They should not lord it over the rest of the Church, seeking what they can get out of it for themselves. They should care for the other members of the Church because they are eager to serve God. Those who are younger should accept the authority of their elders. Sometimes those who are older than ourselves know that something is a mistake, even if they cannot explain to us why that is the case. And all of us, older or younger, should deal with each other from a position of humility.
    There are two personality traits which Peter tells us to value highly: love and humility. If we can master these two things, we will never go far wrong.


Daniel 2:24-3:30

    The dream which Daniel interprets for Nebuchadnezzar resembles the Greek “Ages of Man”. It starts with the Golden Age, followed by the silver, bronze, and, finally, the iron age. Each of these ages (or, in this dream and interpretation, kingdoms) is inferior to the one which preceded it. However, unlike the Greek “Ages of Man”, it is the current age, or kingdom, which is the golden age. While it is likely that this dream and its interpretation were influenced by the Greek stories and myths of the Ages of Man, it is clearly using those concepts to tell a different story. The Greek stories and myths about the Ages of Man show man’s influence over the universe increasing and that of the divine decreasing. However, this dream shows the divine completely overwhelming the power and influence of man over the universe.
    We transition from Nebuchadnezzar praising God for giving Daniel the interpretation of his dream to Nebuchadnezzar setting up a golden statue which he required everyone to worship. However, Daniel’s friends, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, refuse to do so. Some of the courtiers reported them to Nebuchadnezzar for this. We do not know why Daniel is not part of this story, perhaps he was elsewhere at the time.
    When the three young men are brought before Nebuchadnezzar they give a testimony that should be something we take to close heart. They tell Nebuchadnezzar that God is perfectly capable of saving them from whatever danger they may be put into, including any which the king might choose to inflict upon them. However, their affirmation of faith does not stop there. They testify that even if God does not save them, they will not be unfaithful to Him and go against His will. Are we willing to make a similar stand? When we call upon God’s miraculous power are we willing to state that even if God chooses not to give us our request we will remain faithful to Him?

November 25, 2014 Bible Study — Do Not Repay Evil With Evil, But Rather With Blessing

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:14

    The translation notes say that it could also be translated as “Blessed are those who fear the Lord” and that the Hebrew just reads as “Blessed are those who fear.” When I contrast this with the second portion of this proverb, I really needed this proverb right now. I just made the decision to buy another car and I was dissatisfied with the decision I made (not with the car, but with the decision making process). In some ways this proverb relieves my worries. I had a lot of fear going into making this decision and I did not stubbornly stick to my guns, but when I was done, I thought I should have decided differently.
    If we can make a major decision without fearing that we are making a mistake, we are stubbornly fooling ourselves on to the path to serious trouble.


Psalm 119:65-80

    It is by following God’s commands that we acquire knowledge and good judgement. The arrogant may slander us, but if we obey God’s commands He will vindicate us. Let us take joy in our suffering because it will help us learn God’s instructions. God has made us, He will give us the sense to follow His commands, if we will accept it. I will focus on God’s instructions and leave those who malign me with lies for God to handle.


1 Peter 3:8-4:6

    Today’s passage begins by telling us not to repay evil with evil. Rather, we are to repay evil and insult with blessing. There are few who will wish to harm us if we do good, and God will reward us if we do suffer for doing good. Therefore we need not fear those who threaten us in attempt to convince us to stop doing good.
    When someone asks us why we are not afraid to continue in the face of threats, Peter tells us to be prepared with an answer. When we give them our answer, let us do so gently and with respect. This last bit is a challenge for me. Nevertheless we are called to live such lives that when people see how we live they are embarrassed that they said whatever terrible things they have said against Christians and us in the past.
    Since Christ suffered bodily harm, we should prepare ourselves for the same. This will help us keep from spending our lives chasing our own desires and instead make us anxious to do God’s will. We should no longer join with our non-believing friends in wild and destructive behavior. Everyone will have to give account to God for how they live. Let us choose to live in a way that gives others an example of how they should live to please God.


Daniel 1-2:23

    When Daniel and his three friends were entered into Nebuchadnezzar’s training program, they strove to remain faithful to God, despite the pressures to conform to a pagan lifestyle. As I read this today it struck me that in a way the situation Daniel and his friends found themselves in was very similar to the college experience today. They chose not to join in the debauchery of their fellow students. More interesting to me is the fact that Daniel and his friends chose a diet and lifestyle that was healthier and more favorable for learning.
    It is possible Daniel was aware that this was the case, but I think he was just acting on faith. He believed that God wished him to live in this manner. Therefore, he was confident that God would cause him to thrive in this environment if he lived that way. We know from studies which have been done in modern times that the outcome was to be expected. Of course, Daniel and his three friends were healthier, better nourished than their contemporaries who drank and ate too much. Not only that but it was a natural result that at the end of the training they were wiser and more knowledgeable than the rest of their cohort.
    As I said, this is obvious to us today. Daniel and his friends spent their time in the training program learning and studying (both the program provided by the Babylonians and God’s word). They did not spend their time drinking and partying like the other young men in the program. However, I don’t think they knew this was the case. I think they believed that they would be rewarded for being faithful to God and thus made their choice. They did not choose to behave as they did because it would help them learn and be healthy (although it had that effect). In the same way, I believe that when we choose to live a godly life, we will almost always obtain better results than when we choose to live a worldly lifestyle.

November 24, 2014 Bible Study — Submit To Government Authority

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:12-13

    Everyone cheers when good people succeed, but when the wicked become powerful people go into hiding and attempt to avoid being noticed. If most people seek to avoid drawing attention to themselves, it tells you that those with power are wicked. When people cheer for the successes of those in power, you know that those people are leading in a godly way. Usually our leaders are somewhere in between and we see the behavior of the people being somewhere in between as well.
    Those who hide their sins will find them being revealed at inopportune times, or otherwise interfering with their success. Those who admit to their sins and turn from them will receive forgiveness and be able to move beyond them.


Psalm 119:49-64

    The arrogant will mock us for relying on God’s promises, but they are our only true hope. It is easy to become angry at those who reject God’s directions on how to lead a good life. They fail to see the connection between that rejection and the problems they seek to solve. The solution to most of the problems we see in this world is following God’s direction. It is by obeying God’s commands and instructions that we will find our way to dealing with the problems which life presents us.


1 Peter 2:11-3:7

    Peter reinforces his teaching that we are to live as foreigners among unbelievers. He instructs us to live such good lives that, even if they accuse us of wrongdoing, the unbelievers around us will honour God for our behavior. We need to examine our lives to be careful not to do anything which will bring dishonour to God’s name. This includes recognizing that the government, and its officials, have authority over us. Let us strive to be respectful of everyone, especially those with government authority, and live good lives, so that those who accuse us of wrongdoing look foolish.
    Peter makes clear how we are to judge our response to government commands. He tells us that we are to love everyone and respect the Church, the family of believers. We are to fear God and respect the government. This means that we should NOT fear the government. When the government instructs us to do that which violates God’s commands, we should respectfully decline. Another point worth making, Peter tells us to submit to government authority. Elsewhere we are told that all government authority comes from God. Therefore, the government does not have the authority to tell us to do anything which is counter to God’s commands.
    Peter goes on to tell slaves to submit to their masters, even if their masters are bad masters. This instruction contains the same limitation as the previous instruction to submit to government authority. He then tells wives to submit to their husbands. Further, they should seek to have beauty that comes from being a good, loving person, not that which comes from adornment (or cosmetic surgery). Wives are told to submit to their husbands, even if they are not godly men. That is both easier and harder than following his instructions for husbands.
    Peter tells husbands that they are to honour their wives and respect them. My wife may be weaker than I, but she is just as much God’s child as I am. And when I say weaker, I mean that literally. She cannot pick up as heavy an object as I can (or perform other feats of strength as easily as I can). The reason that the instruction given wives is easier is because it is easier to interpret what it means for a wife to submit to her husband than to interpret what it means for a husband to honour his wife. On the other hand, honouring your wife will probably not involve submitting to emotional or physical suffering at their hands. I will say that if your wife suffers emotional or physical suffering at your hands, you have FAILED to honour her.
    There is one last point I would like to make here. It is instructive that Peter has no instructions for how masters should treat their slaves. This leads me to the conclusion that Peter could see no way to be faithful to God and hold a fellow human being as a possession.


Ezekiel 47-48:35

    Ezekiel describes a river which flowed out from the presence of God. This river got deeper as it flowed away from the Temple. It starts out as shallow stream, but becomes a deep flowing river. This river is a river of life. It brings life everywhere it flows. It even converts the Dead Sea from a place where no fish live to a place that abounds with life. Life will abound wherever the water of this river flows. I believe that Ezekiel was talking about how life will flourish in the restored Israel as a result of their faithfulness. However, it also tells us how the love of God works in the world around us when we faithfully follow Christ and express God’s love of those around us.

November 23, 2014 Bible Study — Sending Our Money Home

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:11

    The rich often think that their wealth is evidence of their wisdom, but their are many poor people with far greater wisdom. Wealth is not an indicator of wisdom and those who think that it is are fools.


Psalm 119:33-48

    Throughout this psalm the psalmist tells us how to live good, happy, and joyful lives. The path to that end is to follow God’s instructions, to meditate on His word. Let us be more eager to know and follow God’s law than we are to acquire money and things. Let us abandon our shameful ways in favor of God’s. Let us seek both to receive God’s unfailing love and to express it to those around us. Let us delight in God’s decrees and speak of them to all we meet. This is the path to a joyful, fulfilled, happy life.


1 Peter 1:13-2:10

    God has chosen us to be holy. We must not slip back into living to satisfy our own desires. We had an excuse for doing so when we did not know any better. But now that we have learned how to be like God we must seek to be holy, just as He is holy. We are temporary residents, foreigners, in this world. Let us strive to send our wealth to our home country. As I read this I was reminded of the fuss over illegal immigrants going on right now. In particular I was reminded of the fact that many of those illegal immigrants send a large portion of the money they earn back to their families in the country they came from. They are not in the U.S. because they desire to be in the U.S. (this may be an oversimplification and is not my point). They are here because here they have greater opportunity to acquire wealth to send home.
    In a like manner, we should not live as if we desire to live in this world. Rather let us desire to send our wealth to our home country, the kingdom of God. This means getting rid of evil behavior: hypocrisy, deceit, jealousy, and unkind speech (the NIV translates those last two as envy and slander). We have been born again to a new life. Rather than partake in the evil behavior listed above, let us have sincere love for each other. We can build up wealth in heaven by using our wealth on this earth to show how deeply we love each other.


Ezekiel 45:13-46:24

    Ezekiel continues to describe the procedures and rituals that the Israelites are to follow when God restores them to Jerusalem and the land of Israel. As I have said over the last few days, I find it hard to see what God’s message is for me in these instructions from Ezekiel. However, one thing struck me today. Ezekiel describes the tax which is to be collected for the “Prince”. My understanding is that this is what the people are to pay in taxes to the government in the restored Israel. It is a wealth tax, but the rate is the same for everyone. It is not a progressive rate, not a greater percentage from those who have more. If you own 200 sheep, your tax is one sheep. If you own 400 sheep, it is 2 sheep. If you own 200,000 sheep, your tax is 1,000 sheep.

November 22, 2014 Bible Study — Glorious, Inexpressible Joy

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:8-10

    Those who accumulate wealth at the expense of the poor are merely accumulating it for someone else. God will ignore the prayers of those who ignore His laws. Those who lead people down a path to doing evil will be caught in the traps they set for others. While those who live upright, honest lives will thrive.


Psalm 119:17-32

    I like how today’s portion of Psalm 119 begins:

Be good to your servant,
that I may live and obey your word.

We request that God be good to us, not because we obey His commands but in order that we may obey His commands. Then the psalmist reminds us that we are foreigners in this land. We are not citizens of earth, rather we are citizens of God’s Kingdom. Let us tell God of our plans and ask His guidance on carrying them out. Let us listen to His answers and change our plans according to His instruction. I will beg God to keep me from lying to myself that my own desires are His will, when such is not the case. I have chosen to be faithful and will strive to follow God’s instructions.


1 Peter 1:1-12

    Peter reminds us that it is through our faith that we are shielded by God’s power. He encourages us to rejoice and be glad, even though we suffer grief from the trials we face in this world. These trials come to prove the genuineness of our faith. It is not a matter of proving our faith to God, who knows whether or not our faith is genuine. Rather it is a matter of proving our faith to ourselves.
    Our faith is of greater worth than gold. Peter tells us that our faith will bring us praise, glory, and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. I initially read that as meaning when Christ returns, and think that is probably primarily what Peter meant when he wrote this. However, I just realized that it means, in part, that every time Jesus Christ is revealed to someone who has seen our faith (and perhaps comes to see Jesus because of our faith), we will receive praise, glory, and honour.
    We have not seen Jesus and we do not see Him now, but our faith should, nevertheless, fill us with glorious, inexpressible joy. I went with the NIV for this passage today because of what it says in verse nine. The NIV translates verse nine in the present tense. We are receiving the end result of our faith, which is the salvation of our souls. This is not just something which will happen to us in some nebulous future. It is happening right now as we live lives of faith in Jesus Christ. As I type these words, I am filled with that inexpressible, glorious joy to which Peter refers. I hope that reading the passage and thinking about what it means does the same for you.


Ezekiel 44-45:12

    Ezekiel continues his discussion of the Temple in the restored Jerusalem. It is not clear to me if this restored Jerusalem represents a place and time on earth, or the heavenly Temple, or is perhaps primarily symbolic. As a result, most of Ezekiel’s prophecy about it goes over my head. However, in today’s passage there a couple of things which connect for me.
    Ezekiel discusses how the religious leaders of Israel failed to protect the rituals instituted by God by allowing those who did not worship God to partake in them. Rather than maintain the purity of their worship they invited those who scoffed at God to organize and run their worship. As I read this I think of groups and organizations today who try to find common ground of faith with those who do not honour Christ. We can not make those who have not surrendered themselves fully to the Lord members of the Body of Christ.